The Importance Of The Behdin Passban Program

Recently, I had the opportunity to address the 22nd Batch of young men undergoing the Behdin Passban training, under the aegis of the Athornan Foundation. Behdin Pasbans are our silently dedicated set of behdins who undergo religious training which enables them to augment our Yozdathregar Mobedjis in pasbani and nigehbani of our Pak Agiaries, Dadgahs and Adarans.

Our glorious Zoroastrian religion is currently facing a challenge. Our religion is greatly dependent for its perpetuity and for rendering of various crucial, higher-order liturgical services on our Yazdathregar Mobedjis. Without them, our religion would cease to exist in the future. Unfortunately, our visionary seniors / predecessors in the community, did not at the right time, invest adequately in building a continuous cadre of our Mobedjis or priests. And nor did we, as a community, make sufficient investments to incentivise our youngsters from Mobed families to join in and make priesthood a full-time vocation. The Value Proposition remains lacking. As a result, today, we face an acute shortage in of respected Mobedjis to deliver such services, at all our religious institutions, from all over.

‘Pasbani’ is not easy. It involves serious and dedicated commitment. It means guarding, serving, being a sentinel, a shepherd, a guide, a guardian and therefore, the Behdin Pasbans are required to follow the religious tenets, understand the essence of our prayers, observe purity, tarikats and austerity in performance of liturgies. The role of our Yozdathregar Mobedjis is very critical and cannot be undermined. Their training, knowledge of our tarikats and spiritual preparation is very rigorous, of a very different order and has deep meaning to it. Only they, post the rigorous training, can perform critical inner liturgical ceremonies like ‘Pavv Mahl’, ‘Boi’, etc.

The role and importance of ‘Behdin Pasbans’ is however no less, particularly at a time when we experience an extreme shortage of Mobedjis to do Kriyas and bhanans at our various Agiaries, particularly those located in remote and distant locations. Our ‘Behdin Pasbans’ are like the Para-Military forces for an army in a war or like the Para-Medics who augment the services of the Medical Fraternity during emergencies.

Based on my discussions with several priests and religious scholdars, our Behdin Pasbans can perform certain ‘hoshmordi’ ceremonies like Afirgan, Faroksi, Stum, Jashan, Faresta, Geh-Sarvanu etc, after partaking serious training. (However, distinguishing the services which can be rendered by our Yazdathregar Mobeds and our Behdin Pasbans, must be strictly followed and maintained.)

Do you know nearly 22 of our Pak Agiaries would have become non-operational due to lack of Ervads and Mobedjis? But thanks to the Behdin Pasban Program, we have now been able to save these Agiaries from getting locked-out. Thus, despite not having the authority to perform critical and other important inner liturgical ceremonies, the role of Behdin Pasbans cannot be undermined.

Our Vada Dasturjis, religious heads and scholars need to ensure that our Yozdathregar Mobedjis and our Behdin Passbans work together in collaboration, rather than in confrontation. We are one integrated religion, one community in dedicated service of one Lord Ahura Mazda. We need both – inner liturgical services and outer liturgical services, for our religion and our religious institutions to survive and function smoothly.

Our community unfortunately appears always to be suffering from the chronic issue of ‘conflict surplus but collaboration deficit’! Thus, we unfortunately lose out on the benefits of synergy and collective power to solve our problems.

As a speaker at this program, I narrated to them an interesting story of the ‘Star-fish’… where a young boy walking along the beach sees hundreds of starfish washed up on the shore. In dismay and realizing that many of them were still alive, he begins chucking them back into the sea so they don’t die on the beach. (Starfish that come to the shores die if they are not back into the sea by the time the sun sets.) A man comes along and asks the boy, “Why are you throwing the starfish back into the sea? You can’t possibly save all of them! What difference can you make when there are so many to be saved?” The boy thinks for a moment, then bends down again and throws one more Starfish back to the Sea. Then he looks up at that man, saying, “Well, I just made a difference to that one!” Likewise, if each one of us does one right thing, it will start making a collective difference to our community. Throw that proverbial Starfish in the sea and make a difference.

It was indeed a wonderful function. I was fortunate to listen in to Er. Ramyar Karanjiaji’s inspiring speech as well. The session concluded as we fraternised with the motivated batch of Behdin Pasbans, who we all congratulate and wish the very best of luck for their noble endeavour and commitment.

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